Maui Quick Start Travel Guide

New to our site and looking to jump start your Maui travel planning? Or maybe you’re currently on the island and need quick ideas for your time on the island. Either way, we’ve got you covered.

Maui planning basics

Maui vs Oahu. Can’t decide between the two popular Hawaiian islands? We compare the two dreamy vacation destinations so you can decide for yourself.

Budgeting for Maui. Here’s an idea of what you can expect to pay when vacationing on Maui (2022). Spoiler: It’s not cheap.

The best time of the year to visit Maui. We look at the data to find the best time for weather, least crowds, and best flight/hotel prices. Long story short: the slowest (and cheapest) weeks lie between major holidays and school vacations. For example, we’ve found the first two weeks of December (between Thanksgiving and winter break) to be one of the best times to travel to Maui. 

What to pack for your Maui trip. Avoid schlepping heavy luggage and paying airline baggage fees. This is what you need during your Hawaii stay. Our mantra: pack light.

Navigating Maui’s Kahului airport (OGG). It’s a small airport and hard to get lost, but this is what to expect when you arrive at Maui’s main airport.

Should you get a rental car while on Maui? Probably. Here’s why (and why not). For the most part, we recommend getting a rental car for the most comprehensive island experience

Colorful Aloha sign overlooking the ocean at Kihei, Maui

Where to stay on Maui

West Maui or South Maui — which is better? Most tourists stay in one of these two regions. While we’re partial to South Maui, we compare the two areas to help you decide what’s best for your trip.

Where to stay on Maui. We lay out the different Maui regions and point out notable places to stay in each area based on budget and location.

Kamaole Sands Resort. We often stay at this popular vacation rental resort in South Maui. 

Where to eat on Maui

Must-try food spots — map included. Don’t forget to bookmark this page. These are the places we come back to again and again. Our short list of favorites: 

  • Mala Ocean Tavern (Lahaina) Reopening after Lahaina fire in Feb 2024
  • Nalu’s South Shore Grill (Kihei)
  • Havens Maui for burgers (Kahului and Kihei)
  • Burger Boys food truck (Kihei)
  • The Cinnamon Roll Place (Kihei)
  • Artisan Ice Cream (Paia)

Mama’s Fish House — worth it? Arguably the most famous restaurant on the island, we discuss whether it’s worth the hefty price tag. 

Local dishes to try while you’re on Maui. These are the dishes that Hawaii is best known for.

Where to eat on a budget in Wailea. The pricey South Maui resort district isn’t known for cheap eats. But we found a few budget friendly options.  

Maui restaurants with killer views. Whether you’re seeking a romantic sunset or just can’t get enough of the water, these spots fit the bill. 

Best breakfast spots in Kihei. Staying in South Maui during your trip? Wake up to tasty nosh at the popular beach town.

Where to find the best donuts (and malasadas) on Maui. If you’re going to indulge in some sugar, there’s no better time than when you’re on vacation.

Corned beef hash and omelette plates from Island Gourmet Kitchen in Wailea Maui

Things to do on Maui

Five days in Maui (an itinerary). Check out our off-the-shelf vacation itinerary for experiencing the major sights around Maui.  

Tours on Maui

Our short list. We’ve been on a lot of tours, and these are our top three. 

If you’re as much of a fan of farm tours as we are, check out our list of farm tours on the island.

Road to Hana drive

Best stops along the Road to Hana. If you’re tackling Maui’s legendary road trip without a tour guide, read this first. 

Don’t miss Twin Falls near the beginning of the Road to Hana. The Black Sand Beach at Waianapanapa State Park is another must-visit stop. 

Better yet, opt for a GPS-enabled app to guide you along the way. We’ve used the GuideAlong app **affiliate link** (formerly GyPSy Guide) for years. Their Maui guide includes the entire island, not just Road to Hana. We still use GuideAlong’s Road to Hana guide even though we’ve driven the route multiple times. The app’s GPS instructions are pure gold. 


If you’re looking to stretch your legs, check out these popular Maui trails

One of our favorites is the Pipiwai Trail along the Road to Hana. Payoffs include a sprawling banyan tree, bamboo forest, and waterfall views.  


Get to know the towns around Maui. Our favorites on this list: Paia, Makawao, Kihei, and Lahaina town.

To see more than beaches, spend a day in Upcountry Maui, the island’s farming region. Also, don’t miss the stunning views at Haleakala National Park

Looking for turtles? Read our top spots for turtle sightings. Don’t forget to keep a safe distance, though — Hawaiian sea turtles are protected against human harassment under both federal and state law.  

In South Maui, don’t miss the coastal beach path at the Wailea resort district.

We're working on updating our site to reflect the changes resulting from the recent wildfire tragedy. This includes updates on Maui businesses and sites as we receive incoming reports. Please read our message about the wildfire, along with resources for how to help those on the island, here. Mahalo.